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White House warns North Korea over missile launch

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday warned North Korea that its planned long-range missile launch would be a flagrant breach of the impoverished country's international obligations and would jeopardize food aid from Washington.

The launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea says will merely put a weather satellite into space, breaches U.N. sanctions imposed to prevent Pyongyang from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

"The proposed missile launch, if conducted, would represent a clear and serious violation of North Korea's obligations under two United Nations Security Council resolutions," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

"We will continue to work with our partners on next steps if North Korea goes through with this provocation and we continue to urge countries to have influence on North Korea to work to persuade North Korea to consider a different path," Carney told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama.

He declined to spell out what the next steps might be but made clear the launch, which is set to take place between Thursday and next Monday, would sink planned U.S. food aid for the country, which has suffered from famine in the past.

"It is impossible to imagine we would be able to follow through with and provide nutritional assistance we have planned on providing, given what would be a flagrant violation of North Korea's basic international obligations," Carney said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, writing by Alister Bull; Editing by Bill Trott)

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